Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats best-play hoops countdown: Mills’ shot at buzzer in regulation takes fight out of UCLA in epic 1991 game




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This year’s countdown to tipoff includes an overall look at the best play in Arizona Wildcats history, which will be determined as the days leading up to tipoff. Today marks 42 days until Arizona starts its 2014-15 season against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 14 at McKale Center. Along with the mentioning of the top plays, the countdown will once again display the top players who wore the number that corresponds with the day. The following is the next top play (they will be listed randomly during the countdown until a determination is made in a bracket):

Chris Mills releases his short jumper that forces the game to go into overtime at UCLA in xxxx (YouTube video capture, click on photo to access video)

Chris Mills releases a short jumper that forces the game to go into overtime at UCLA in 1991 (YouTube video capture, click on photo to access video)

Some times the best plays are not diagrammed by the coach coming out of a huddle.

Fate takes over.

Chris Mills met that fate in a classic 1991 game between Arizona and UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

As the last few seconds of regulation ran off the clock, Arizona freshman Khalid Reeves did not execute the play that was outlined by Lute Olson during the Wildcats’ previous timeout. Instead of taking the ball the length of the court and driving for a layup — like he did at Stanford the following season in an epic play — Reeves attempted a pass after he crossed the midcourt stripe to a surprised Sean Rooks.

Rooks was supposed to position himself for a rebound if Reeves missed the layup. Instead, Reeves’ pass bounced off his hands. Mills scooped up the loose ball before UCLA’s Mitchell Butler could grab it. In the same motion after snagging the ball, Mills attempted a mid-range jumper from the right side and the shot went through with less than a second to spare.


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ARIZONA’S TOP PLAYS LISTED SO FAR (Click on link to access blogs that pertain to the following)

Kenny Lofton’s behind-the-back, double-pump dunk caps rout of Oregon in 1988, ranks as one of college hoops’ best dunks of that season.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning long-distance three-pointer downs UCLA in 2005.
Derrick Williams’ emphatic blocked shot against Washington in 2011 saves game for Arizona.
Khalid Reeves’ coast-to-coast game-winner with less the five seconds left beats Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 1992.
Steve Kerr’s first shot after father’s assassination in 1984, a 25-foot jumper against ASU, gives him hero status in Tucson and contributes to Arizona’s emergence in the Pac-10.
Sean Rook’s last-second bank shot at Stanford in 1991 gives the Wildcats a 78-76 victory.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning jumper against Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16.
Sean Elliott’s free throw breaks Lew Alcindor’s conference scoring record in 1989.
Craig McMillan’s McClutch shot at the buzzer from full-court pass from Steve Kerr against Oregon State in 1986.
— Arizona 6-10 center Bob Elliott’s 35-foot jumper at the buzzer beats Kansas State in 1973.
Sean Elliott downs Duke with three-pointer over Danny Ferry in last minute in 1989.
Miles Simon’s 65-foot bank shot as time expired to beat Cincinnati in Phoenix in 1996.
Tom Tolbert’s no-look, twisting shot against North Carolina in the 1988 Elite Eight.


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The game went into overtime and UCLA never recovered, losing 105-94 to the fifth-ranked Wildcats before a national TV audience on ABC.

Before Mills’ shot, Butler, a 45 percent foul shooter who had missed all 11 of his free throws in conference play, ended his drought by making the second of two shots, capping a 5-0 run by the Bruins and giving them an 86-84 lead.

Reeves quickly brought the ball upcourt and ignored Olson’s instructions by passing to Rooks. UCLA’s Don MacLean told reporters that he knocked the ball from Rooks. Replays show Rooks never had control of the ball.

Mills told the Los Angeles Times: “I was right behind. He lost control of the ball and I put it up before the buzzer. I really wasn’t aware of the time, but when the ball was in the air, I saw the red light (go on), so I knew it was good.”


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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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